Lutz Kampmann, Kreuzlingen
Protection, Mobility and Capability are the cornerstones for our vehicle design A post-Afghanistan strategy for armoured vehicles
Interview with Lutz Kampmann, Vice President Marketing & Business Development at GDELS
The European: Mr. Kampmann, one of General Dynamics European Land Systems’ (GDELS) core businesses is the development and production of armoured wheeled and tracked vehicles. For many years, your customers have been using your vehicles very successfully in Afghanistan. What are the products in your portfolio and where do you have subsidiaries? Lutz Kampmann: We have developed and produced various types of vehicles that are currently used by soldiers in Afghanistan. These products in service there represent only a small selection of our product portfolio. When designing our products, we understand that any armed force needs a vehicle that can be used for at least the next 20 years. A lot can happen in such a period of time. Therefore, we initially design our systems for all types of terrains, climates and environments. Flexibility is the key for a successful product. Our production facilities are located in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain. In addition to our own facilities we run production facilities with subcontractors and partners in Belgium, the Czech Republic and Romania.
The European: How is your vehicle portfolio divided up? Lutz Kampmann: It is divided into four product lines: Wheeled Vehicles, Bridge Systems, Tracked Vehicles and Artillery & Ammunition. Within the Wheeled Vehicles product line we produce Light Tactical Vehicles and Wheeled Combat Vehicles. The Light Tactical Vehicles EAGLE and DURO are available in 4x4 and 6x6 configurations. The De-Dion suspension gives them unrivalled mobility and their modular armouring concept allows us to adapt the vehicle protection levels to the expected threats. The Wheeled Combat Vehicles, PIRANHA and PANDUR, are hull-based. The heritage of those vehicles goes back over 60 years. During this time we have gained valuable in-service and combat experience with our vehicles. The GDELS Wheeled Vehicles are specifically designed and produced for military applications. Therefore our vehicles are able to show an extraordinary performance in rough environments and under extreme conditions and the latest version of the medium tracked vehicle, the ASCOD 2, is considered to be the most modern infantry fighting vehicle in its class.
The European: So over the years you have inherited a variety of vehicle systems. Do they still fit into your concept?
Lutz Kampmann Lutz Kampmann has been Vice President Marketing & Business Development at General Dynamics European Land Systems, Spain, since 2011. He was born in 1964 and holds a Masters Degree in Material Science/Welding Technology (Dipl.-Ing.) from Clausthal University, Germany. Before taking up his current post he was Vice President Sales & Marketing at General Dynamics European Land Systems, Austria (2009–2010). Prior to that he was Vice President Wheeled Vehicles (2006–2008) and Director of Program Management at MOWAG GmbH (a General Dynamics Company), Switzerland (2003–2006); Chief Operating Officer at Swiss LEM Hochdorf, Switzerland (2000–2003); Executive Director, Material Development at Algroup Alusuisse, Switzerland (1992–2000); and Systems Engineer at MBB/ERNO, Germany
Lutz Kampmann: Our basic vehicle concept is centred on the three main drivers – protection, mobility and vehicle payload. Our vehicles, other than for example the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, are always designed to meet the “Protected Mobility” approach. The first generation was highly protected but not very agile in off-road conditions.
The European: And what about affordability? Lutz Kampmann: Mobility, capability and survivability still remain the cornerstones of our vehicle design. However, affordability has become an increasingly crucial element. Not the initial investment for a vehicle is important, but the total costs of ownership over the entire life cycle. Low total cost of ownership of vehicle fleets is one of our key objectives. Even if the initial sales price per vehicle might appear high, in the long run we will enable our customers to have more funds available for improved infrastructure, thorough training and other operational needs. This is the spirit of spend to save.
The European: You mentioned that you are adapting and modernising your concept. In my opinion, “lessons learned” should be applied. But do you have a strategy on how to develop your systems in a “post-combat Afghanistan” era in order to meet new operational requirements in the future? Lutz Kampmann: First of all, I would like to dwell on how we gain our knowledge to implement the “lessons learned” process. As mentioned before, GDELS products are used all over the world. Thus we gain and analyse information from a large number of nations that specified not only Afghanistan
photo 1: EAGLE 4x4 photo 2: PIRANHA 5 8x8 photo 3: EAGLE Family (4x4 and 6x6)
54 requirements. In a strategic planning process we identify and analyse potential surging conflict scenarios and derive our modular product portfolio accordingly. Because of the complexity of many of our products, we believe that the best manner to cooperate with our clients is by establishing strategic partnerships.
T he European: What is behind the strategic partnership? Lutz Kampmann: This means that we go far beyond simply delivering goods and services. A strategic partnership is based on trust and mutual benefit. This type of partnership ensures an extensive exchange of information and a much more efficient approach to cooperation than just working on a pure commercial basis. Both sides talk with each other on all levels, ensuring a fruitful exchange of experience and knowledge.
The European: So your products were not designed for a specific role and are thus not limited to a certain mission profile? Lutz Kampmann: No, the basic design purpose was and still is to enable governments to defend their national interests by force if necessary, whilst protecting their people as far as possible. I fear that as long as humans desire their neighbour’s wealth, there will be conflict. Because of continuing globalisation and its consequences, it is more than likely that each and every government will eventually encounter asymmetric warfare in its political sphere of influence. Urgent procurements will no longer be commonplace. However, there is an ever-increasing need for the type of products offered by GDELS.
The European: Let us talk about future platforms. Lutz Kampmann: The “one platform fits all” approach is what everybody is dreaming of. I would say the “one platform” approach is a “one family” approach. A good example is the EAGLE or the PIRANHA family of vehicles. If we have a closer look at the EAGLE family we will find a product that covers the whole range of up to 15 to. Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). The EAGLE can be configured as a 4x4 or 6x6 and all types of variants from Open Top to Ambulance and Recovery are available with scalable protection kits. The European: What is the advantage of this “family of vehicles” concept for the customer? Lutz Kampmann: The main advantage is a significantly reduced cost of ownership! Instead of having a vehicle type for every mission role, we offer a vehicle family that can cover all roles. A common platform requires less training of the user and the mechanics. In addition to the reduced amount of training, a far smaller stock of spare parts is needed and this provides overall cost savings through standardisation and reduced Integrated Logistics Support (ILS).
The European: Let me come back to ILS. How do you differentiate yourself from the competition in this area? Lutz Kampmann: As our products are specifically designed military products and not based on commercial components, we as the OEM are able to provide parts and services independently without any major obsolescence issues.
The European: Could you give us an example? Lutz Kampmann: The PIRANHA drivelines are an example: We have the design authority and are the manufactory of all the drivelines used on PIRANHA’s, LAV’s and Stryker’s. We are therefore in more or less constant production for those drivelines – even for legacy products. Another main focus of our business is to design products that are easy to maintain.
The European: And what about upgrades? Lutz Kampmann: In addition to the availability of parts and the ease of maintenance, the modularity and compatibility (family concept) allows an easy and cost effective approach to upgrade protection, mobility and payload. The strategic partnership with customers enables us to upgrade products of our portfolio in a sustainable way with lowest total cost of ownership. For instance, if a customer is running a fleet of PIRANHA 3 vehicles with an 18 to driveline, we can offer solutions to upgrade the vehicle with a 22 to or 25 to driveline. Such an upgrade provides additional payload that can be used, for example, for additional protection.